'The people have spoken': Mableton poised to become Cobb's seventh city

Nov. 9—Voters in south Cobb have chosen to incorporate a new city of Mableton.

The referendum to incorporate the city received 13,156 votes in favor, or 53%, and 11,674 opposed, or 47%, with all 16 precincts completed as of 5:15 a.m. Wednesday.

All results are unofficial until certified by the Cobb Board of Elections.

The approval of the referendum will incorporate Mableton as Cobb's seventh city. With more than 75,000 residents, Mableton is also positioned to become Cobb's most populous city.

Mableton will offer four services — zoning, code enforcement, parks and recreation and sanitation — to roughly 77,500 people in the southernmost part of the county, between Austell and Smyrna.

"The people have spoken," state Rep. Erica Thomas, D-Austell, one of the leaders of the pro-Mableton cityhood group MabletonYES!, told the MDJ on Tuesday. "This is a great move forward for the people of this district, and they want improvements, and they want a better life for their families, and we think this is a great step in that direction."

Thomas added that years of work put in by the pro-Mableton cityhood group resulted in Tuesday's victory.

"I think the most important thing was keeping the people first," Thomas said. "And what we did over the last three to four years was making sure that we had over 50 town halls, and that people were present to voice their opinions on what services that they wanted, and what they wanted for the city of Mableton."

Cobb Commission Chair Lisa Cupid posted a message on her social media addressing the successful referendum and other elections held in Cobb on Tuesday.

"Congratulations to the proponents of the city of Mableton and to all candidates that won their elections. The county stands ready to work with all of our leaders and stakeholders to ensure the best service for all of our citizens."

According to MabletonYES!, a two-year transition period will begin now that the referendum has passed. Gov. Brian Kemp, reelected to a second four-year term Tuesday, may appoint a transition committee to oversee the change from county to city services.

Elections for Mableton's mayor and six City Council members will take place in the first half of 2023, according to the pro-cityhood group, and once elections are complete, the new officials will be sworn in and begin their work during the transition.

William Wilson, another leader of the pro-Mableton cityhood movement, said that while the results were not yet final, he was "cautiously optimistic" incorporation would win after five years of working toward Election Day.

"It's crazy," Wilson said. "It's pretty wild to think that something like this could happen just from a small meeting of a group of citizens," Wilson said. "There's a lot of thanks to go out to the entire community, to the people that attended those information sessions, that gave us feedback, they're the ones that guided us."

Opponents of the cityhood measure began formally organizing earlier this year, creating the anti-Mableton cityhood group, Preserve South Cobb.

"Our biggest challenge was getting people aware that the ballot measure was out there and that even if they didn't live in Mableton, it potentially affected them," said Christie Lynn, a representative of Preserve South Cobb.

At the same time, she said the group's involvement led more people to pay attention to local issues.

"I think one of the successes was, you know, making people more aware of the process and how important it is to stay on top of local races," Lynn said.

The Mableton cityhood ballot measure was one of four cityhood referendums in Cobb this year, though the only one on Tuesday's ballot. In May, voters rejected efforts to incorporate cities of East Cobb, Lost Mountain and Vinings.

Unlike the three cities rejected by voters in May, the Mableton area is heavily Democratic.

"We may get 55%, but there's 45% also that's in this community, that, they might not have fully believed, but if this passes, we're going to have to gather that group up as well and provide that vision," Wilson. "It is going to be a community effort, and we need everybody on board."